From a victim of bullying to a basketball star

Grateful: (from left) Temple devotee Oscar Yap, Xian, Sharwhin and Vairavasundaram posing for a picture after the sports star presented Xian with a signed basketball and an ang pow.

GEORGE TOWN: S. Sharwhin almost dropped out of school before completing his Form Three in 2017, due to his family’s financial constraints. He was also a victim of bullying in school.

A distraught Sharwhin sought help from former boxing and kickboxing champion R. Vairavasundaram and was then referred to the Kek Lok Si Foundation.

Chief abbot Venerable Xian Guan provided him with aid for his studies. Things changed for the better for Sharwhin after that.

Sharwhin, 22, who is now a pro-basketballer, recently paid a visit to the temple to personally thank the Buddhist monk who gave him the chance to get an education.

“He didn’t expect to meet me but he was very happy to see me. He gave me a bottle of blessed traditional Chinese tonic for my shoulder injury,” said Sharwhin after the meeting.

He also gave the monk an autographed basketball and an ang pow.

The foundation had sponsored Sharwhin RM3,000 annually for three years until his Form Five.

Sharwhin’s father K. Siva Raghu, 55, is a driver who earns about RM1,500 monthly while his mother R. Mageswary, also 55, is a housewife.

Sharwhin has an older sister, 26, and a younger brother in Form Four.

Vairavasundaram is the founder of the “Zero to Hero” programme that helps troubled and vulnerable teenagers.

“I took up martial arts training under Master Vairavasundaram to protect myself against bullies in my school,” said Sharwhin.

“Vairavasundaram then encouraged me to go into basketball because of my height. I was 15 then.

“I started watching basketball on YouTube and from there, my interest in the sport developed,” he said.

“I then joined the Youngsters Basketball Club at the Chung Ling High School in Penang and there was no turning back for me,” he added.

Sharwhin has since played in the national junior squad in 2018 and the Under-25 national basketball squad last year.

He now plays with the NS Matrix, a leading professional basketball club in Malaysia. His biggest dream is to become a world import player by the age of 24 and an NBA player.

He has also joined the country’s basketball team when playing overseas.

But for now, Sharwhin wants to give back to society.

He helps Vairavasundaram to deliver motivational talks at schools and children’s homes.

He also hopes to spark interest in students with his talk titled “Discovery Basketball”.

Sharwhin has reached out to over 1,500 students to date and plans to meet 10,000 students this year.

In his “Discovery Basketball” talk, he tells his personal story of being a victim of bullying to becoming a sports star.

He said all it took was a vision and hard work to achieve his goals.

His towering height as well as his humble and friendly disposition also help to get the students and teachers inspired.

Sharwhin wants to continue sharing his experience with schoolchildren.

His advice to students from underprivileged families is not to be afraid of trying.

“Just keep moving forward in life. When you fall or fail, don’t be afraid to get up and try again,” he added.

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